Indoor rock climbing gyms are opening up all over the US in major and minor cities alike. People are putting on tight, funny shoes and making the choice to climb up the side of a wall made to look like a rock or mountain for the sake of fun or fitness.
If you’ve ever had any questions about what goes on inside an indoor rock climbing gym, or how to get involved, keep reading!
The Two Types of Climbing Found at Gyms: Bouldering, and Belaying
There are two types of climbing that you will commonly find when you go into a rock climbing gym: bouldering, and belaying.
Belaying is what most people think of when they picture rock climbing. A harness is secured around you, and you are hooked up to a pulley system of sorts, where one person counterbalances you on the ground as you climb up a very tall wall.
Once you hit the top, or you fail and drop, the counterbalance means that instead of you falling dozens of feet and hurting yourself, you usually drop a short distance (Whatever ‘slack’ is given to you in the rope) and then hang there until the person on the ground lowers you slowly.
Bouldering is what people consider scarier, even though climbers don’t go nearly as far up. The scary part of bouldering is that there is no harness or straps to support you. Instead, you climb anywhere from 12-20 feet in the area to complete the route. Once you have finished, you can return down the way you came.
If you fail, though, you simply fall to the ground. If you’re only a few holds up, you won’t fall far. If you’re almost at the top, you are falling the full 12-20 feet down below.
At the majority of gyms, all of the flooring will be padded, with extra ‘crash pads’ under the bouldering walls for additional support. Safety wavers are signed to pass the responsibility onto the climber, though many places offer introductory classes or videos to watch on how to fall safely and not hurt yourself in your climb.
Is Rock Climbing a Good Workout?
Yes! Some people consider rock climbing to be the best all body physical workout you can do. Whether you are belaying or bouldering, rock climbing is a great way to get into shape.
The reason is that when you rock climb, you are both strength training and doing cardio. It takes both muscle and stamina in order to hold yourself to the side of the wall for any length of time, and you are lifting your full body weight when you pull yourself up. Good rock climbers utilize both their upper and lower body, and the full range of motion means you are stretching and working on flexibility, too.
Is Rock Climbing Safe?
There are risks for any sport, hobby, or physical activity. Rock climbing is as safe as you make it to be. If you know your limits, practice safely and follow instruction, then rock climbing can be as safe as going to a regular gym or going out for a run. But if you push yourself too far, ignore the risks or don’t use the proper equipment, then no. Rock climbing will not be safe for you.